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Intentional Community Serious Discussion and Committment  RSS feed

 
Michelle Hertzberg
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Hello everyone. Although we are new to this forum we are not new to the work, effort, research and disappointment when it come to starting an IC.

As elders, our efforts over a 20 year period to start a community went on sabbatical after finally realizing that most folks were not psychologically, ready to change certain mindsets.

We had over 180 folks come to our 5 acre farm in southern Arizona who had an unrealistic idea about IC's that frankly, worried us.

*None came with their own finances (they thought they could just BE there and the infrastructure would pay for itself and we would pay for everything)

*None but one came with any self sufficiency skills to contribute.

*All (but one) others came with poor to zero work ethic (not on of these understood land stewardship)

*None came with domestic skills, or building skills

*None wanted to learn to do what was needed

*None respected personal boundaries

*None had any creative or entrepreneurial ambitions to develop cottage industries

After eighteen years of people coming in with these attributes, we decided that our vision to develop a self sustaining (mostly) community would not be possible with the mindset of that time.

We were (and still are), frugal people with a wealth of self-sufficient and gardening skills and more.

We are still stewards and lovers of the land but our experiences have given us pause when it comes to people's lack of understanding about what community can mean. Yes, it takes many forms but we didn't want to re-invent the wheel. We visited cohesive and successful communities when the old place sold.

Bringing forth an IC is very much like birthing and raising a child; in and of itself, it is not simple and requires, education, work, creativity, vision and commitment. Dealing with each persons personality is work and compromise salted with a great deal of humor and a foundation of basic rules by which all can maintain autonomy which is shared. We used the 4 agreements which has served us very well thus far.

We encourage you to be interested in an IC but do your homework, go visit as many as you can, read about the most successful ones as well as the ones who have failed.

Now we are elders, we are not sure we have the energy anymore to try it again although our hearts still yearn for an IC where elders as well as children are loved and have a contribution that will edify the community and themselves. We still hope for it to come about in greater numbers; a wealth of diverse people with diverse skills and dreams could become our futures only hope of redeeming ourselves from a consumerist society.

So, don't give up but understand, it is no simple or cheap thing to develop or join an IC. Research them and yourself especially. Know that you may or may not be able to adjust to such a life.

 
Eric Ware
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This just makes me sad...
 
Adam Klaus
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gardener
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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I'm not a big fan of ICs myself, but sounds like you are just bringing rain to the parade, no?

In all seriousness, as someone who runs a farm and seeks to find worthwhile individuals to collaborate with here, your failure rate of 0/180 is nothing short of remarkable. I mean, you guys had great skillsets, and yet attracted exactly zero people with any capabilities whatsoever? I think there must be more to the story. I actually find it mathematically hard to believe that nobody that you welcomed into your IC could cook, clean, build, learn, grow, communicate, agree, or anything.

Paul has been up and running with his project now for six months, and he seems to have found individuals that can do all of the above. Multiple individuals that even can do remarkable things like both cooking and learning. Or building and communicating. I'm sure he isnt 180/180, but zero for 180 is some serious odds.

Who we attract as leaders often says more about us, than them. In my interactions with prospective partners, I take a serious look in the mirror when I think the other person was the problem. Like the King said, 'I'm talking bout the man in the mirror....' In the spirit of community, sing along y'all!



 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Dammit Adam, I was all fired up while reading the first post and was digging deep to see how best to describe my take on it, and I scrolled down and you beat me to it.
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I've hired lots of idiots to help me do demolition work and I've managed lots of idiots for others. Still, there have been at least one hundred of the 500 or so that I consider good workers. More importantly, I have moved mountains while using helpers who had failed at pretty much everything that they ever set their hands to. A good manager leads, and even mediocre help can sometimes be encouraged, bribed or badgered into some degree of usefulness. Get er done.
 
Kevin Hiebert
Posts: 38
Location: Zone 3 SW Manitoba, Canada
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I don't have any personal experience ICs but I echo Dale's comment about working with and supervising a lot of low achievers in the construction industry. Lacking any internal motivation, most can be externally motivated (carrot or stick) to give at least a mediocre effort.
Sounds to me like a bit of venting was going on. Presumably they wouldn't have kept it up for 18 yrs if it was always so miserable.
Sounds like Paul has a good thing going though. And jack spirko has some interesting IC stuff in the pipeline too.
 
Michelle Hertzberg
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Well Adam, we are grateful that our mirror reflects the people we want to become; we aren't there yet and neither are you.

People are who they are. We simply refused to deal with folks who felt entitled.

The few IC's we found that were successful and progressing in their plans for over 10 years, we learned a great deal from. When we were asked about our efforts, most told us that they also had the same experience with people during the first 10 years of planning and seeking folks and that the next ten were amazing. I was gratified that this is usually the process but it was also based upon WHERE we found folks and where folks came from (their situation).

Mind you that doesn't encourage us to try and start one again nor join one(we elders really aren't considered viable in many communities) . We are both spent and tired.

We plan to teach preparedness, domestic skills and organic gardening starting next year in our back yard and meeting places. We will be fortunate to be able to spend our later years helping in that way.

I repeat. Those who have a dream for an IC, don't give up but be diligent, realistic about human behavior and personalities. Also, assess what you have to offer a community that attracts you.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I've tried 3 people at my place.

One, a single guy is doing just fine.

Two, a breeding couple from the U.S. have proven to be amongst the most useless creatures that I've ever encountered.
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Let's use this small sampling to generate some useless statistics --- The single guy has no children. He is from Canada. The sort of married guy has children. He is from the U.S. The woman has children. She is from the U.S.

100% of Canadians have worked out fine.
100% of Canadian men have worked out fine.
50% of men have worked out fine.
50% of men have been utterly useless.
100% of women have been utterly useless.
100% of women with children have been utterly useless.
100% of men with children have been utterly useless.
100% of Americans have been utterly useless.
100% of people with children have been utterly useless.
100% of people without children have worked out fine.

What does all of this prove ? --- It proves that I let a couple idiots move into my cottage. It also proves that a small sample size is useless and that I have no pressing things to attend to at this hour.

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Reading the above, I would wonder if the expectations, governing rules and entry requirements (amongst other things) were clearly stated and if people were required to actually sign on to or agree to these? I also wonder that there was not training in the necessary skills if it was known that people without skills were entering the IC.

Like Adam, I'll admit to not being a huge fan of ICs, mostly because in the relatively few I've visited (and none but the one in New Zealand still exists, to my knowledge), a clear guiding vision was not spelled out OR that guiding vision became outdated and people simply decided the community wasn't for them any more.

I have to admit - and this is probably my own bias - when I read someone referring to themselves as someone of status, such as "elders", I wonder if there was an expectation to "venerate" or "abide by the teachings of" the elders (yourselves) that was not being met and thus this may have accounted for some of the poor experience?

I think most disappointments come from not having intentions, rules, expectations, etc, spelled out VERY CLEARLY. And it's a learning process.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I had a chuckle at the elders thing. Two guys who worked for me had an argument about what is required for elder status amongst the Cowichan First Nation (Indians, to many Americans). The oldest guy in the group figured that he should be in charge of work being done by several others, because of his age and automatic greater status. Martin disagreed strongly. " You never go to any events, you don't know any traditional skills, you don't speak Hulkemeilum and you're a drunk. I'll be an elder before you." To Martin and all of the others who sided with him, age alone was not an adequate accomplishment for someone to be referred to as an elder in their culture.
 
Benett Freeman
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Location: Travelling around Europe
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Jennifer > I agree that the idea of spelling everything out is key. I've come to permaculture through philosophy (judging by what I've read on these forums so far, a rare point of entry) and consider it almost axiomatic that only a community of people who agree on fundamental ethical principles will be able to live together.

Dale > Building on the point that you were making, I wanted to say that I would consider leadership only to be a process of 'founders' setting out their objectives, and then bringing on board the people that can help them, and seeing improvements being made organically from that point on, with no hierarchy. I'm sorry to hear you had some useless helpers. Can you tell me a little about your project if you're still looking for volunteers? PM if you want.
 
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